Viljandi football club Tulevik has decided to forgo its place in the first-tier Premium liiga and and is applying for a second-tier Esiliiga license for 2022 instead. The vacuum will be filled by Pärnu football club Vaprus.
JK Tulevik announced its decision to the Estonian Football Association (EJL) on December 20 and justified applying for the license with the tense economic status of the club, which derives from the coronavirus crisis side effects.
"Understandably, we are very sad that Tulevik is not participating in the Premium League. At the same time, we understand that the club wants to make a choice, which would improve sustainability. It's a decision for preventing issues," president of the Football Association Aivar Pohlak said.
JK Tulevik President Raiko Mutle said that the decision wasn't made light-heartedly and confirmed that alternatives were looked for until the last moment, support outside the club to fill the budget. The head of the club said that finding support has been more difficult in the pandemic context.
"The decision is extremely painful and difficult because we have risen to the Premium liiga and stayed there for six years, for the last five consequent seasons only with effort and hard work both in the club office and on the court. I can confirm that our managing team, the representative team and the coaches have done everything given their all to keep our team in the league," Mutle said.
The announcement can be read in full length on the club's website (link in Estonian).
The EJL will continue to support JK Tulevik in the Premium liiga with various measures, including the development of scholarships for young players in the representative team, the youth work leaders project and the community leaders program. It is known that in addition to these funds, Premium League clubs are also guaranteed a salary subsidy from the Solidarity Fund for six contract players.
CEO of Pärnu JK Vaprus Karl Palatu said that the club started assembling a representative team for the Premium League season.
"The past season was full of educational situations for us and gave a lot of experience to both players with experience in Premium liiga and newcomers. We have already analyzed the learning points in the management. Football is full of surprises and we have to be able to change our plans," Palatu said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino